Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights is a phenomenal piece of pure cinema. It is brutal, sad, and haunting due to its ability to juxtapose and piece together evocative images. It, like last years Tree of Life, pushes the film medium forward into unexplored territory.
Perhaps that is why some find it boring or a total waste of time. It truly isn’t your typical literary adaptation. Not because it modernizes the setting or drastically changes the story or makes it more edgy content wise. No. It is different because it translates Emily Bronte’s story using cinematic language instead of settling to simply film the book.
I was talking with a good friend, who also loved it, a couple hours after the screening. In was in this conversation that he said something profound:
“I think we as American movie audiences are trained to follow or become connected to a movie through dialogue and story. Yet what Wuthering Heights does is tell the story through images. We need to re train our mind to follow those images and no longer get distracted when a film isn’t structured the same way as a novel or play.”
That hits it right on the nose. The love that grows between Kathy and Heathcliff is not developed through dialogue or even story, but through images. More specifically the senses of sound, touch, and sight.
This is why Wuthering Heights is so important in my mind. It is pushing cinema away from borrowing from other art forms and towards developing its own unique form of cinematic storytelling.
And it is powerful.